Nathaniel Wood def John Castaneda via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
A solid start to the card for ‘The Prospect’ as he delivers on his name with a great performance. Lots of movement and stiff punches but Castaneda held his own in the first round with some strikes of his own. As the fight progressed though, Wood began to find his reads and land more often than not. More of the same through the second and third round and Wood cruises into a decision victory.
Ramazan Emeev def Nicklas Stolze via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)
Another fiercely contested bout between two warriors as Emeev gets himself back into the UFC win column also. The first round went as expected, with Emeev dominating on the ground with 3 takedowns and plenty of time in top position. The round ended though with Stolze landing a huge knee that rocked Emeev before the timer ended. The second round didn’t hit the mat at all as Emeev kept it standing and out-struck Stolze with his stiff jab and a nice overhand right. In the third, he controlled his opponent against the cage with a strong body lock and wore his opponent down to secure the unanimous victory.
Pannie Kianzad def Bethe Correia via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)
An interesting fight this one as Kianzad came out firing and Correia almost looked lost in the Octagon. Barely any head movement made her a simple target to hit, which Kianzad did handily and just completely dominated the opening round. In the second round, Correia landed a takedown and did well early on but Kianzad got back to her feet and continued to outland her opponent in the third round for a comfortably decision win in the end. Correia didn’t look good here at all.
Tanner Boser def Raphael Pessoa via Knockout, Round 2 (2:36)
Tanner Boser makes it two wins on the spin with a big knockout over Pessoa in the second round. After a tentative first round from the heavyweights where there weren’t many punches thrown but plenty of leg kicks, Boser throws a windmill left hand that scrapes the eye of his opponent (legally!) and Pessoa goes down. Boser steams in and follows up with big ground and pound before the referee steps in and calls it off. Big win!
Movsar Evloev def Mike Grundy via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3, 29-28)
A high-level grappling bout which saw scrambles, submission attempts and good strikes. Evloev and Grundy took each other to the limits, with Grundy starting it off immediately looking to take it to the ground. Grundy went for a d’arce choke but Evloev used a backwards roll to escape, very unorthodoxly. Grundy continues to go for takedowns but Evloev is busy on the bottom and when he gets back to his feet clearly has the edge in the stand-up. Grundy took plenty of punishment and his face was marked up so he started shooting for takedowns, but Evloev was prepared now and was able to stuff them and land more shots. Round 3 was all Evloev on the feet too and even when Grundy managed to secure a takedown Evloev was able to get back up quickly.
Tom Aspinall def Jake Collier via Knockout (Round 1, 0:45)
Well, that was quick. As expected, Aspinall moves forward and causes plenty of problems. Collier is way out of his depth and as he steps in for a power shot, Aspinall lands a beautiful knee to the body before a one-two straight down the pipe to flatten Collier. He lands a few more shots on the ground before the referee steps in. No shocks there.
Jesse Ronson def Nicolas Dalby via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 1 (2:48)
The first shock of the night! A fun first round where Dalby tried to initiate a brawl with his less technical opponent and it backfired massively. After stuffing a takedown attempt against the cage, Ronson lands a huge left hand counter to the chin that drops Dalby. He goes for ground and pound, takes mount and sinks in a rear-naked choke for the big upset win and his first UFC victory.
Francisco Trinaldo def Jai Herbert via Knockout, Round 3 (1:30)
What a fight! First round Trinaldo got Herbert to the ground and used excellent top pressure to land sharp elbows but the Brit gets back to his feet and gets some big knees in of his own. Herbert opens the second round with a big one two that drops Trinaldo! He pushes forward for a finish but the veteran shows his experience and ties him up on the ground in his guard. More big shots from Herbert and he’s troubling Trinaldo, but the elder statesmen is staying in it with some body shots. Third round opens up with either fighter potentially up on the scorecards. Trinaldo swings a wild left hook that connects flush on the forehead of Herbert and knocks him out cold. He falls backwards and Trinaldo rushes over and doesn’t want to strike but Herb Dean won’t wave the fight off so Trinaldo lands 3 bombs before it’s over. Massive win for Trinaldo but a great showing from Herbert too.
Khamzat Chimaev def Rhys McKee via Knockout, Round 1 (3:08)
As expected, this one didn’t last long at all. Chimaev flew across the octagon and immediately shot for the takedown, picking McKee up and walking him across the cage to dump him in the corner. He got on top of him and landed strike after strike on the ground until the referee showed mercy. 2 fights, 2 strikes absorbed, 2 finishes in 2 different weight classes. This kid is the real deal.
Alex Oliveira def Peter Sobotta via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)
A super sharp ‘Cowboy’ Oliveira delivered a masterclass of a performance as he defeated German Sobotta in this fight. Heavy body kicks made Sobotta’s mid-section tender and meant he dropped his hands low, allowing Oliveira to land straight right hands at will. Big uppercuts and body shots too but Sobotta isn’t giving it up. Pushing forward with shots and kicks, Oliveira is being dominant on the feet and piecing up Sobotta. Vicious elbows open up a cut on the top of the head, followed by cuts around the eye. Sobotta tries to push forward but can’t land anything significant enough to overturn this comfortable win.
Paul Craig def Gadzhimurad Antigulov via Submission (Triangle Choke), Round 1 (2:06)
Craig storms out across the octagon to start fast and lands a nice body shot. Antigulov goes straight for the single leg takedown and secures it, although Craig didn’t fight it particularly hard. With Craig on his back he looks to lock up a triangle choke but is being very patient with it, while Antigulov starts throwing bombs. 3 big elbows land on Craig and open up a cut over his head, but he sinks the triangle choke in deeper and takes an arm too forcing a quick tap by the Russian. Beautifully done and mightily impressive by the Scotsman.
Carla Esparza def Mariana Rodriguez via Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
A true war of attrition in this one as both ladies left it all in the octagon cage. Esparza opens up the round with a big takedown attempt and ends up on top, but Rodriguez attacks hard and fast from her back with slashing elbows. She opens up a huge cut on Esparza’s eye and it’s leaking onto her own face, as she’s still on the bottom of the grappling exchange. The second round is more of the same but with more damage from Rodriguez as she stuffs more takedowns and lands some nice right hands, ending the round with some ground and pound of her own when Esparza attempted a heel hook. In the third, Esparza got the fight down yet again and this time just was intent on keeping Rodriguez down and handing out some damage of her own rather than attempting submissions. The round ends and I have it scored 29-28 Esparza but could absolutely go either way.
Fabricio Werdum def Alexander Gustafsson via Submission (Armbar), Round 1 (2:30)
Gustafsson comes out light on his feet likes he’s still a 205er and immediately Werdum goes for the takedown. Gustafsson fights against it and gets back to his feet but Werdum holds on to him from behind and secures the trip and back position. He works for the rear-naked choke but Gustafsson fights the hands so he transitions to an armbar. After a tussle for position, Werdum breaks the grip and extends the arm forcing Gustafsson to tap out. Crazy.
Mauricio Rua def Antonio Nogueira via Split Decision (29-28 x2, 28-29)
What. A. Fight. Another war between these two legendary Brazilians. Both fighters were rocked during the first round as they exchanged left hooks in the pocket. A flat out war ensued, much like the previous two bouts, and once again Rua was victorious. Rua landed some takedowns to get ground and pound in but Nogueira also did the same thing at one point too. Big shots exchanged and a wonderful fight that rolled back the years, but it’s the same outcome as the previous two occasions too.
Robert Whittaker def Darren Till via Unanimous Decision (48-47 x3)
A high-level striking bout here as both men come out strong and committed to taking the centre of the octagon. After a nice exchange of shots, Whittaker rushes in for an overhand left and Till lands a stunning elbow perfectly on the chin that drops the Reaper! He goes for the ground and pound but Whittaker is able to get back to his feet and recover before the end of the round. In the second, it’s a role reversal. Till comes out aggressive and it’s Whittaker who lands a huge shot that drops Till this time. He ends up on top in half guard and lands some vicious elbows on the ground to cause some damage. The rest of the fight is incredibly strategic and technical, with neither fighter landing anything more significant throughout but plenty of feints and strikes thrown. Whittaker started mixing it up more with takedown attempts leading to hooks. His attack of Till’s lead leg has caused the Brit some big problems in the latter stages of this fight and into the final round he needs to land a finish. He throws another big elbow that lands on the side of the head and cuts Whittaker open bad, but the former champion goes straight for a takedown to see the fight out safely. Big win for Robert Whittaker that leaves Darren Till in limbo in the middleweight division.